“And I will fall at your feet…and I will worship you here.” -Hillsong Live
Have you ever anticipated something for so long that when it actually happened you weren’t really sure how to respond. How to breathe. How to stand. Almost needing to pinch yourself in disbelief; not wanting the moment to end.
“Heaven doesn’t seem far away anymore.” -Ron Pope
The mix CD, heart to hearts and some tears heading up to the big city in the wagon with my favorite sister created just the space to kick off our NYC Tri weekend. I had driven in the city a few times but never in Time Square and Midtown. We were stompin’ with the fast and furious this time.
“If you come into my lane…you better know how to drive.” -NF
The best part of driving in NYC is when flashers signify I am stopped here and you need to go around. No warning. No permission. Just flat out stopping and going at will with no parking space needed. Keeps you on your toes and in the high alert zone. Yet with all the chaos and clinging, there’s something calming about the city. It settles my undiagnosed ADD and I’m more focused, more still on the inside. Plus my sister’s calming presence was the greatest gift on this much anticipated adventure.
“These little town blues are melting away…” -Frank Sinatra
I was so grateful going into this race I had decided to dedicate it to the kids. My nephews. The kids I worked with. The kids that fill my life. Motivation of promises and perseverance; miracles and moving mountains, life sustainer and giver, restorer and redeemer filled my heart as I would think of each of them and all the living and choosing they have yet to do.
“Is your heart racing? Is there fire in your veins?” -Martin Garrix
There still is that innate slacker in me who prefers sleep and coffee. I kept debating with my sister who I have always said is a better person than me; should I just go right to the swim start or go to transition first which would mean having to get up that much earlier. It was required to get your bike to transition the day before which could risk a flat in the heat, someone messing with your stuff, etc. All the real Tri goers would hands down say go to transition first and take the mile long hike to the swim start. Inside I was thinking this should be included in the total race distance. Getting anywhere in New York is no cake walk. More work. Harder. The long way. Less sleep. I thought about my nephews. If it was their race what would I say to them. Just slack it and go to the swim start. No way. I would say…do your best, do whatever you can to be ready and give it your all. You wanted this, now go get it. Even if it feels like the whole world is laughing at you and it’s still hard to take yourself, your dreams, your truth seriously; just do it. That’s what I would say to them, so I had to remind myself of that same truth.
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
There are 4,000 participants in this race. Two different transition areas and two separate wave starts; yellow and red. An ADD nightmare. Many places to get lost. Tripped up. Off track. Swept away. Or flat out go the wrong way. I tried to do the responsible thing and walk through the transition tour the day before to ready myself but sometimes that can just make you more nervous. Yes you will be in that river tomorrow as you slowly walk by and see questionable things floating. Sometimes it’s just better not to look or know what’s ahead. My friend made a good point that it probably is really hard to get arrested in this city. From being flashed by a disgruntled biker during the transition walk through, dodging cars with no distinct lanes, almost getting hit by a cab, to trying to hoist my bike on the subway through the turnstile; lots of risk, unpredictability and danger. Places to get hurt. Places where my faith had to be bigger than what was in front of me. The most dangerous part was at the end of the swim trying to get on the barge and up the ramp. You were funneled in kinda like cattle and all the kicking, splashing, elbowing was in full force. River water swallowed. Head pushed under. The scappiness had to go in high gear as I was determined to make it out of that river one way or another. Grateful for my nephew Rocco and all his scrappy ways that kept me fighting my way out. Thinking of his surgery when he was just a few weeks old and all the tubes and poking and prodding…what’s a little river water…we got this.
“Set a fire down in my soul; that I can’t contain and I can’t control” -Jesus Culture
For me these races have been about knowing and experiencing God more. Stepping out in faith, letting go of fear and moving forward into places where I feel more alive in Him. Where my faith is strengthened beyond what I know or see. Some people don’t get it and that’s okay. I am learning to be okay with where He takes and speaks to me regardless of approval, criticism or judgment. This race in particular was especially meaningful. I said to my husband; is it wrong that NY still has a piece of my heart and he assured me how the mountains still have a huge piece of his heart. Grateful there is truth and acceptance in who we are. Being laid off after 9-11, walking through that horrific day; dreams were stolen. Hearts broken. Life taken. Fear started to take over a lot of my choices and defeat and safety became the recipe and way of life. Afraid to dream. Afraid to choose life. Afraid to believe better. Afraid to go the distance. Afraid to show up. To go back this day with the skies just as blue, the skyscrapers just as visible; every time I see that day I remember towers and black smoke. Walking bewildered backwards smelling the burn and not knowing if I was going to make it across the bridge. Seeing blood, and soot, and fear. As I went through Central Park on this day; it was about finding my pace and running my race. I kept seeing blue skies and strong towers all around. Blue skies and faithfulness. Blue skies and You are King. Blue skies and You are stronger. The reminder that He brings purpose and praise out of our pain. That nothing is lost with Him. He redeems all things even the hardest of losses. He is the only One who knows; and the only One who can. I was grateful I had the scripture from Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield” in my pocket. As the sun beat down hotter and hotter; at just the exact moment when I thought I gotta walk; the shield of the rays and the shade would come. Just when your about to quit and the heat seems too overwhelming. The refreshing came. His faithful love was there every step even when I wasn’t aware or paying attention. Working it out. His strong tower providing, protecting, making a way despite what could be looming ahead. And at the end of this race my only conclusion was…”I’m so sorry for ever doubting you. You are so much bigger, so much better, so very worthy…and You will always tell the best story. And that really is all I need to know.” Hugging my friends and my sister and seeing God’s faithfulness in their lives was all the more reason to put my hands up in praise. My friend’s shirt spoke volumes…”Live the life you love.” And today in church the reminder from The Princess Bride…”Even death can not separate us from true love.” There is no more truer or more faithful Love than His.
I know many of you (my few friends and family who have subscribed to this blog) are finding your pace and running your own race. Your own skies are at times looming and dark. There may be black and smoke and questions and pain. It is my hope whatever season, whatever question, whatever heart ache we can find comfort, and rest and certainty in His faithful love. In the promises, the praise, the purpose that will come as we trust and stay close to Him. I read that in the scripture “I will never leave you or forsake you” In the original text never could actually have been translated five times. ” I will never, never, never, never, never leave you or forsake you.” That is a promise we can hold onto whatever the skies. I was grateful my number had this reminder on it…
And the on next to me said…”You never know until you Tri”
“There is no crying in triathlon.” After my weight loss journey I found myself on the emotional healing journey. First there was a lot of anger and the next layer was a lot of pain. More tears than I knew or anticipated.
I was grateful for this reminder. This happy place.
I hope you find some happy places to tread this week. I hope your skies are bluer than usual and the reality of His strong hold; His mighty tower becomes your safest and most truest hiding place. Safer than any sky we face. Greater than any fear. More real than our very breath.
“Faithfulness none can deny; Through the storm and through the fire” -Hillsong
Hugs and Love,